The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued directions to ‘Authorised Officers’ at import points to ensure testing of imported cinnamon for coumarin content.

“Authorised officers are hereby directed to ensure that all the imported consignment of cinnamon gets tested for coumarin content,” reads the FSSAI order.

According to the FSSAI, the standards for cinnamon prescribe the ‘Coumarin’ content on a dry basis and it should not be more than 0.3% by weight.

However, there were reports about imported cinnamon failing to comply with the prescribed standards.

Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs, says that coumarin seems like a missile, but is a compound found in the plants. Those compounds usually add flavour to the food. The cinnamon, sweet clover, and Tonka beans do have a high amount of coumarin and this is the reason why those food items have a hint of a sweet smell. “Coumarin levels are increased in any food, negative impact on health can be experienced.”

He explains, “Cinnamon is the most popular spice used after black pepper. There are two different types of cinnamon in the market. One is true cinnamon known as Ceylon cinnamon and the other is cassia cinnamon. The Cassia cinnamon contains the highest level of coumarin. There are no studies or proof that declare a certain factor contributing to the spike of the coumarin level, yet, the harvesting of cassia cinnamon with a low coumarin level is the only way to manage the levels. Those cinnamon sticks though look different, distinguishing between them is difficult. As mentioned, the constant intake of cinnamon, rich in coumarin is likely to cause liver damage and prove to be fatal to your health